On July 2, 2009, chinanews.com.cn reprinted an article posted on jnocnews.jp reporting on the first official trilateral policy discussions between China, Japan and the United States. The impending summit indicates that these three countries are looking to renew their strategic, cooperative relationship.

A new economic and diplomatic situation brings with it new requirements and new pressures, but this doesn’t mean that any agreements will take effect instantly. There are still significant divergences in policy among the three countries. For example, the U.S. and Japan are still in a military alliance while China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace. The main focus of the upcoming policy talks will be just how to form an equal, balanced and stable strategic cooperative relationship among all three countries.

The excerpt of the article reads as follows:

In July, China, the U.S. and Japan will hold the first official trilateral policy dialogue in Washington, a move that indicates that these three countries are working to form a new strategic cooperative relationship.

In the later stages of the Cold War, China, U.S. and Japan cooperated strategically but it was a cooperation based mainly on security needs. They worked together against the former Soviet Union to prevent communist expansion into the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean regions but the relationship stopped at security-related support.

After the disintegration of the former Soviet Union, the need for strategic cooperation disappeared: the newly defined U.S.-Japan Security and Defense Alliance focused on the strategic containment of China. However, with increasingly rapid economic globalization and global multi-polarization, a need for China, the U.S. and Japan to redefine their relationship has blossomed.

Under these new historical conditions, China, the U.S. and Japan share common interests over a broad range of issues: the GDP of all three countries rank top in the world; Japan, China and the U.S. are all WTO members and work to maintain global free trade; they are each other’s most important trading partners and must closely cooperate to withstand financial and economic crisis. Additionally, Japan, China and the U.S. share common ground regarding such issues as global warming, anti-terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and the maintenance of regional peace in the Asia-Pacific arena.

On this basis, the relationship among China, the U.S. and Japan has shifted from an extremely unbalanced relationship in which the U.S. and Japan jointly work to restrain China, to more balanced, trilateral cooperation. In late 1990s, Japan proposed the establishment of a Chinese-American-Japanese dialogue mechanism, which became known among scholars and think tanks as the “Second Track” dialogue. In January 2005, the then-U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Robert Zoellick, stated that China and U.S. are joint “stakeholders”.

In March 2007, former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, (among others) published a report stating that the core of “strategic changes in East Asia is the ‘Rise of China’” - and that the bipolar U.S.-Japan alliance against China was no longer effective. “The stability of East Asia depends on a trilateral relationship among U.S., China and Japan”, and we should spare no effort to promote a “friendly and cooperative relationship” under the condition of maintaining the U.S.-Japan alliance. The PHP research Institute of Japan and other organizations have again proposed a China-U.S.-Japan dialogue mechanism and there is no doubt that the turbulent world financial crisis increases the urgency of implementing the above recommendations.

In this context, an official policy summit has been put on the agendas of all three countries. Certainly, this doesn’t mean that strategic cooperation will take effect instantly. There are still significant divergences of views among the three countries. For example, the U.S. and Japan are still in a military alliance while China pursues an independent foreign policy of peace. The main focus of the upcoming policy talks will be just how to form an equal, balanced and stable strategic cooperative relationship among all three countries.

At the same time, China maintains that any cooperation should be open-ended, complemented by other multilateral discussions to promote democratization and good international relations. This is an issue that also needs to be explored during the upcoming discussion in Washington.

During President Obama’s speech at Cairo University, he said, “human history has often been a record of nations and tribes -- and, yes, religions -- subjugating one another in pursuit of their own interests. Yet in this new age, such attitudes are self-defeating. Given our interdependence, any world order that elevates one nation or group of people over another will inevitably fail…Our problems must be dealt with through partnership; our progress must be shared.”

If this is the attitude towards strategic cooperation negotiations among China, the U.S. and Japan, it will be an alliance with a long and bright future.